Math, Reading

My 10 Favorite Math Picture Books : #PB10for10

Once again this year I am excited to be participate in the August 10 for 10 Picture Books blogging event.  An event where educators share their “must have” children’s picture books with each other virtually.  Last year I really enjoyed reading the blogs and creating a wish list of books, many of which have become my new favorites.  As a primary teacher (who is currently working as a consultant) picture books have always been at the heart of my classroom. I adore children’s book, the stories, the illustrations, the way they captivate the readers, young and old alike.  This year I decided to add a twist to my post and focus on picture books that can be used to support mathematics education.  As an educator, who has a passion for mathematics education, I find that using picture books to introduce and explore concepts is a great way to enhance learning and foster connections.  Plus I love the challenge of taking a book and looking at it through a different lens… a mathematical lens.  In so doing I often “see” more within the pages of the book then I did when I only used my language lens.  Often a book that I never thought of has mathematical comes alive with mathematical concepts and connections when I just shift my perspective.  So after careful deliberation here is my 2011 edition of my 10 favorite Math picture books.

1. Actual Size by Steve Jenkins– The beautiful illustrations in this book are the actual size of the animal or part of the animal being described. This makes this book a great starting point for discussions about measurement, comparisons, estimations, and scale.   I find that students love to compare themselves to the animals in the story and really get a sense of how big or how small they are.  Carole Saundy- Fullerton has created some wonderful task cards and activities that can expand the learning opportunities in the book. 

2. How Big is it? by Ben Hillman– I love how this book allows the reader to compare two objects to get a sense of how big something really is!  This is a great book to teach size, and  measurement.  Students can look at Ben Hillman’s pictures and then, armed with a digital camera, go out and create How Big is it? pictures of their own.  Student created pictures in addition to the images in the book would support an increased understanding of proportional reasoning.     

3. Goldilocks and the Three Bears by Caralyn Buehner and Mark Buehner– This is a classic story that students are sure to be familiar with.  It also provides an opportunity to show students how you can look at a classic story from a different perspective…mathematically.  Students can use bear manipulatives to represent each bear in the story – big for Papa Bear, medium for Mama Bear and small for Baby Bear.   Then they can use play dough to create bowls, and cube-a-links to create chairs and beds that would be proportionate to each bear.  This book leads right into lessons about size, proportions, patterning and the number 3.  

4. Chrysanthemum by Kevin Henkes– Chrysanthemum is a book about a little mouse who is teased about the length of her very unique name.  Not only is this an amazing story to initiate conversations about teasing and self-esteem it also provides an opportunity for students to think about their names mathematically.  Students can compare lengths of names, as well as adding up the letters in their name to figure out what it adds up to (A=1, B=2, c=3, D=4…).  This can also be a starting point for other problem solving activities such as finding a word or words with specific values. 

5. Seven Blind Mice by Ed Young– I love using this book to talk about the power of patient problem solving and collaboration.  Each mouse working on their own was only able to come up with one piece of the problem…What is the strange something?  By working together, and  comparing thinking the mice were able to uncover the answer and solve the problem. 

6. One Stuck Duck by Phyllis Root-  This is a much-loved book of my own children as it has such a catchy rhythm to it.  I love using this book to teach students the concept of  growing patterns as on each page the number of animals goes up by one.  In addition to growing patterns this book provides many opportunities to explore numbers to 10,  and one to one correspondence.  Extension activities such as addition, subtraction and graphing are also possible.

7. Scaredy Squirrel by Melanie Watt–  I had this book on my list last year and could not leave it out this year.  Not only is it a witty (and funny) book it also has a strong math connection…the measurement of time and problem solving.  Students can talk about how much time has passed through out the story as well as Scaredy’s careful problem solving and reasoning as he tries to work through his fear of the unknown. 

8. Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus by Mo Williams– I love this book and it’s links to math are very strong.  Students can explore the idea of constructing an argument with logical reasoning as well as critiquing the reasoning of others.   Students can inquiry about the questions What is a good argument and how can I create a good argument to support my thinking in math?

9. The Greedy Triangle by Marilyn Burns– In this book students can explore reasons why triangles and quadrilaterals are useful in the world.  This is a great way to support students making Math to World connections with literature and geometry. 

10. Rooster’s Off to See the World by Eric Carle– For me no list is complete without an Eric Carle book and so I end my list with Rooster Off to See the World.    This book is a wonderful way to explore the concepts of counting, addition and graphing with students. So many great mathematical possibilities exist in this classic story. 

So there you have it… my list of 10 Mathematical Picture Books!  I hope some may become your favorites as well.

19 thoughts on “My 10 Favorite Math Picture Books : #PB10for10”

  1. “Often a book that I never thought of has mathematical comes alive with mathematical concepts and connections when I just shift my perspective.”
    Wow! Thank you for sharing this perspective on these books.

  2. This is great! I’m a new teacher this year and am excited to explore the possibilities of using picture books for math. I’ve already got two of these books (“How Big is it?” and “Rooster’s Off to See the World”). Thank you!

  3. Nice list. I’d add books by Mitsumasa Anno, the King’s Chessboard, and the Sir Cumference books. Slightly older (late elem), Number Devil is really good.

  4. Thank you for this list! My two most recent math favorites are 365 Penguins by Jean-Luc Fromental and Growing Patterns: Fibonacci Numbers in Nature by Sarah Campbell.

  5. Wow! I’m always recommending Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus but I’ve never made the connection with math. Thanks!
    I love many of the other books you’ve listed – Steve Jenkins rocks!
    Thanks again.
    Apples with Many Seeds.

  6. I really like that you didn’t just stick with traditional “math” books- like counting and shape books. What a great connection to the pigeon book! I need a good blogger that loves teaching math, that is not my strong suite!

  7. Great post! I’ve never heard of One Stuck Duck. Will use with my class this year for sure. I also wrote about math books for my #pb10for10, but I love that we came up with completely different books! Love the diversity of math books out there.

  8. I would have to suggest looking at “One Grain of Rice” by Demi as well. Great intro to base 2 powers.

  9. Love your suggestions Jennifer, really great book choices, will check out 1,2,and 9. Great blog entry!!

  10. Hi Jennifer,

    My name is Bonnie Gaudet and I am a student in Dr. Strange’s EDM310 class at the University of South Alabama. I have been assigned to leave a comment on your blog for one of my class projects.

    I really enjoyed this post and I am excited to use some of the books you have mentioned to my classroom once I start teaching. Recently in another class, I had to “teach” a lesson on equivalent fractions and I found it helpful to use the book The Hershey’s Milk Chocolate Bar Fractions Book by Jerry Pallotta. Overall I feel that it’s always good to bring in other resources than just the text book to keep things interesting and keep kids engaged in the learning process. The Hershey’s Milk Chocolate Bar Fractions Book is specifically geared toward the teaching of a mathematical concept, but it is great that you were able to look more deeply into the content of some of these books and use them to teach mathematical concepts even though that was not what they were initially intended for. I love that element of creativity!

  11. I find that using picture books that can support math activities in class is most useful. They can learn how to add and subtract by using various pictures in a book.

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